- The Missouri Hyperloop Coalition has announced that it will conduct a study to determine the viability of a hyperloop system that would connect St. Louis to Kansas City, MO, in less than 30 minutes, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Engineering firm Black and Veatch is leading the study and donating $400,000 worth of its services as part of the effort. The company, along with Virgin Hyperloop One and members of the coalition, which include the St. Louis Regional Chamber and the Missouri Department of Transportation, will examine proposed routes, what new infrastructure would be required, connections to other modes of transportation and both the potential environmental and economic impact on the area.
- No taxpayer money will be spent on the project, according to the University of Missouri, which is acting as the study's contracting entity. The coalition also aims to come up with cost estimates for the hyperloop system and funding sources.
The Missouri Hyperloop Coalition came together late last year in hopes of securing a hyperloop route. At the time, the coalition pegged the price of the study at up to $1.5 million and was in the beginning stages of issuing a request for proposals from the private sector.
Virgin Hyperloop One is aiding the coalition even though a Missouri system was not included on its list of finalists for the Hyperloop One Challenge's potential U.S. routes. The company said it would provide resources to each winning team and then decide which three are the most commercially viable routes. Those routes included Cheyenne, WY–Denver–Pueblo, CO; Chicago–Columbus, OH–Pittsburgh; Miami–Orlando, FL, and Dallas–Houston.
The company has said its goal is to have three full hyperloop systems running by 2021.
Shortly after making its challenge announcement, Hyperloop One rebranded itself as Virgin Hyperloop One when billionaire Virgin Group founder Richard Branson made a significant investment in the company. The founder of Virgin Airlines and Virgin Galactic, a commercial spaceflight company, said he wants to help bring the speed of airplanes to ground transportation, according to The Guardian.
The dollar amount of Branson's investment is unknown, but it was significant enough for the company to change its name and to land Branson a seat on the board of directors. Branson is expected to push the California-based company toward international expansion.